Friday, July 31, 2015

July 2015 Reading Recap

Favorite picture from July:
Our Spanish Steps selfie... cracks me up.
Celebrating the 4th of July in Rome!

Not a bad month considering the craziness going on around here. Most of these books were ones I started in June and finished in July. Here's the list:

The Duff by Kody Keplinger: Bianca is hurting, so she uses Wesley as her distraction. 

Animal Farm by George Orwell: What happens when animals take over the farm and become human like? Nothing too good, that's for sure.

This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner: A rebel and a soldier team up to solve the mystery of their world and stop a war.

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare: Tessa is wanted by an evil Master for her shape shifting powers and the rest of the Shadow Hunters must thwart this plan.

Elevated by Elana Johnson: What happens when you get stuck in a elevator with the guy you've been avoiding for months? A massive catharsis that's what!

Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch: Spring has taken over Winter and all the Winterians want is their kingdom back and their young king on the throne once again.

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang: A young Chinese American boy comes to terms with his heritage with the help of an old ancient legend.

Favorites of the month: This Shattered World, Elevated and American Born Chinese. Reviews on those last two coming soon. 

Plans for August:
  • Utah Book Month! (There'll be more detailed post on what I hope to read coming soon.)
  • Re-read Not in the Script for book club and our Utah Book Month Read Along
  • Read Eleanor by Johnny Worthen
  • Read How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr
I can't wait to get started... which is why I didn't! LOL!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Movie Review: Jurassic World

Movie: Jurassic World
Genre: Adventure
Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard
Rating: PG 13
My Rating: Two thumbs up

This movie came out the weekend before our big trip. And there was absolutely now time for us to go then. When we came back, I was worried we'd missed our window to see it on the big screen, but it was still here. And then, it took us two more weeks to find time to get out to it! But we finally did and I was pleased that all the buzz about it was correct.

So much fun!

What I mostly loved about it was all the nods to the original Jurassic Park. Not just the relics that they find lying about but, the actual story too. Very similar. Just bigger and badder. Sort of. I mean nothing really compares to that first one, right?

And as you all said, what's his face Chris Pratt was perfect! I'm liking him better and better! The girl, played by Bryce Dallas Howard... she was okay. But the boys, spot on. Loved them.

Anyway, do you want a fast summary? So, the park is back... the vision is pretty much what the grandpa from the first movie wanted. And they have bred some pretty ruthless cross breeds of dinosaurs in the time being. So, when one of them gets out... then lots and lots of bad stuff happens.

But what's his face saves the day! Because he is a dinosaur whisperer! And the girl, who was straight laced and stiff as a board.. she is suddenly all loose and her hair even went curly, right in the middle of all that fighting!

And  of course, there's the music. Such awesome music. Even though John Williams didn't actually do this one, they left all the themes in. Perfect.

Here's the trailer:

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Utah Book Month Read Along!

One of the new things we thought would be fun to do for Utah Book Month (which starts this
weekend, by the way!) is to have a read along of a Utah Book. There are SO many to choose from! But we've narrowed it down to two debut Utah authors:

Not in the Script by Amy Finnegan

Millions of people witnessed Emma Taylor’s first kiss—a kiss that needed twelve takes and four camera angles to get right. After spending nearly all of her teen years performing on cue, Emma wonders if any part of her life is real anymore . . . particularly her relationships.

Jake Elliott’s face is on magazine ads around the world, but his lucrative modeling deals were a poor substitute for what he had to leave behind. Now acting is offering Jake everything he wants: close proximity to home; an opportunity to finally start school; and plenty of time with the smart and irresistible Emma Taylor . . . if she would just give him a chance.

When Jake takes Emma behind the scenes of his real life, she begins to see how genuine he is, but on-set relationships always end badly. Don’t they? Toss in Hollywood’s most notorious heartthrob and a resident diva who may or may not be as evil as she seems, and the production of Coyote Hills heats up in unexpected—and romantic—ways.  -- Summary from Goodreads


Ink and Ashes by Valynne E. Maetani

Claire Takata has never known much about her father, who passed away when she was a little girl. But on the anniversary of his death, not long before her seventeenth birthday, she finds a mysterious letter from her deceased father, addressed to her stepfather. Claire never even knew that they had met.

Claire knows she should let it go, but she can’t shake the feeling that something’s been kept from her. In search of answers, Claire combs through anything that will give her information about her father . . . until she discovers he was a member of the yakuza, the Japanese mafia. The discovery opens a door that should have been left closed.

So begins the race to outrun his legacy as the secrets of her father’s past threaten Claire’s friends and family, newfound love, and ultimately her life. Ink and Ashes, winner of Tu Books’ New Visions Award, is a heart-stopping debut mystery that will keep readers on the edge of their seats until the very last page. -- Summary from Goodreads

And now, we'd love to know if you'd like to join us and then which one you'd like to read.

Tell us here if you'd like to join the read along:

And tell us here which one you'd like to read:

We'll break the book up into sections and have some discussions along the way, both on our blogs and on Twitter. We'll let you know the schedule as soon as we know which book is chosen. If you've joined us for a read along before, you know it's always a blast! We'd love to have you! Stay tuned for more info!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Characters Who Are Fellow Book Nerds

Which characters love books as much as we do? That's the question of the day over at The Broke and the Bookish. I thought of a few. I wish I could think of more guy book nerds. I know they're out there!

Top Ten Book Nerd Characters

1. Francie from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
2. Liesel from The Book Thief
3. Belle from Beauty and the Beast (or one of the many variations of this story)
4. Jo from Little Women
5. Hermione from Harry Potter
6. Kvothe from The Name of the Wind
7. Helen from 84, Charring Cross Road
8. Hazel Grace from The Fault in Our Stars
9. Anne from Anne of Green Gables
10. Jess and Rory from Gilmore Girls.... oh wait. Oops.

I'm sad I couldn't think of more guy book nerd characters. Who am I forgetting???

Who's on your list? Link up over at The Broke and the Bookish!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Book Review Discussion: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Book: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
Genre: YA Fantasy (Steampunk)
For: Fun
From: own stash... bought some time ago and I forget where

Short Synopsis: Set in the same world as the City of Bones books but earlier in time, this book is about a group of Shadow Hunters who take in a girl named Tessa. This girl appears to have some pretty rad shape shifting powers and it also appears she's wanted for those powers by some high up dude who is determined to get her. It's the mission of our people to stop this from happening and find out who he is. And to hopefully not die in the process.

My Response: I felt the same way about this book as I have with the other series (of which I've only read two) and that is.. . it alternates between being a bit on the boring side to a crazy intense. Boring for awhile, then intense, then boring, then intense. Hmm... so that makes it so hard to analyze and rate and all that. Anyway. I mostly enjoyed it. And I am curious about what'll happen next. I was expecting Will to be a much more swoony boy, but he was really just not that nice. I expect there's something in his background that might explain this, but we have yet to learn that from this first book. So, not sure what's up with that. But since I have the next books on my shelf, I imagine I'll read them some day!

Bottom Line: Interesting stuff, but sometimes it gets bogged down with all the world building and explanations.

Let's Talk About: I find it so interesting that some books can have awesome worlds and magic system sand yet you don't once feel like that author is stopping everything to explain them to you. And then sometimes there are books where it feels like a complete pause in the story just to explain. And I imagine that we as readers will find some one way and some another and won't agree which is which. Fascinating.

Other Reviews:

All-in-all there are more than enough intrigues and unanswered questions in Clockwork Angel in hold a reader’s interest in the Infernal Devices and the next part of Tessa and Will’s story. From Love Vampires

In short, Will's all reckless and daring and has issues with authority as well as some MAJOR ISSUES with LIFE IN GENERAL for as-yet unknown reasons, but he and Tessa also share an immediate lurrrve that he won't admit. From Bookshelves of Doom

This new series stands on it’s own and delves into a new world of machines while keeping it’s feet dangling in the pools of paranormal. From There's a Book

There’s so much conflict with good vs. evil and with the angst between the characters’ relationships in the story. I really enjoy the worlds and stories she creates. From Jenni Elyse

Friday, July 24, 2015

Movie Review: Paper Towns

Movie: Paper Towns
Genre: Teen drama
Starring: Nat Wolff, Austin Abrams, Cara Delevingne
Rating: PG 13
My Rating: Two thumbs mostly up

I hadn't planned on going to Paper Towns on release night, but when we realized that it was release night, we were all like... why not? So, we found ourselves at the very first show!

Paper Towns is definitely not my favorite John Green book, so I didn't have really high expectations going in, but guys, it was really pretty funny. In a silly, crude and a bit of a naughty sort of way. We were all LOLing in many many places and I'm not a huge LOLer really.
This kid (Austin Abrams as Ben) stole the show.

One thing... I don't know why the girl who plays Margo gets such press time and billboard time and etc because,  you know, she's hardly in the movie. (She does disappear after all.) It's the boys, the three friends, that really should be headlining this thing. They. Were. Awesome. Oh my gosh, they were great.

Backing up... here's a bit of a summary of the story for those who have not read the book: We have Quentin (also known as Q) who's had a crush on his neighbor Margo since she moved in when they were kids. Now that they are in high school, they barely talk. Margo is WAY out of his league. Then one night, she comes to him and asks for his help to exact revenge on all her friends that have wronged her in some way. Q has the best night of his life. The next day, she disappears and now it's his mission to find her.
Q and Margo sneaking around.

Up front, it appears it's a story about this crazy Margo girl, but really, it's about Q and how he learns what's really important. Which has nothing to do with Margo, but more about the relationships he's had going for years already. I really like this message.

The movie, like I said, is crude in parts, but you'll laugh anyway. I thought the audience would come unglued entirely when one of the boys has to pee in a can as they are driving. Stupid, but so so funny due to the crazy awesome acting job on his party. On the other hand,  I did not like how the movie glamorizes teenage sex and makes it look perfectly okay. Whatever.

The road trip.

Oh, and a certain other star from a certain other John Green book/movie makes a cameo and oh my word the audience I was in about flipped out!! It was awesome! Let me know if you see it and if your audience has such a reaction!

Anyway, I enjoyed and it and we all left laughing and giggling and with this lovely message (see above) in our heads.

See it if you are a John Green fan, a teen drama fan, or a fan of the silly. If none of those things fit you, you'll probably roll your eyes and wonder what all the fuss is about.

Here's the trailer:

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Book Review Discussion: This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

Book: This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Genre: YA SF
Rating:★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
For: Fun
From: Library

Short Synopsis: This story takes place in the same futuristic world as These Broken Stars, but with different characters. (However, the characters from These Broken Stars make a little appearance.) This time we are on a sad dark world where the military is fighting against the native rebels. Our girl, Lee, is a soldier and our boy, Flynn is a rebel. When their paths cross, they realize that they are actually fighting for the same thing. They somehow combine their efforts to accomplish what they really want, meanwhile alienating themselves from both of their respective groups. It gets a bit complicated.

My Response: Just as intense and engaging as the first book though a bit more political and warfare-ish. As you know, sometimes that sort of stuff goes right over my head, but I did get the underlying problem, which is leftover from the first book and thus the reason that Tarver and Lilac end up involved in the end. Which is awesome. It's fun to see Tarver from Lee's point of view. It's like he's a totally different guy. So, while I enjoyed these characters, I still loved the ones from the first book best. Oh, well. It happens. Anyway, I love the writing and the crazy stuff and the connection with characters who are from different life cultures and all the romantic tension and... yeah, pretty much everything. I'll be looking for the next book for sure!

Bottom Line: In the mood for science fiction? Don't miss this series!

Let's Talk About: Some people really like companion books instead of sequels. And yet, when we have companion books, those characters we love from the first book aren't really featured. And then we get crazy. So, which one is it for you? Are you a fan of the sequels or companion books?

Other Reviews:

These authors do a great job with taking old romantic plot lines and reformulating them in other times on other planets. From Rhapsody in Books

The story itself fit nicely in the world and series that begun in These Broken Stars and also got us a few glimpses on out beloved Lilac and Traver (just not enough for me..) From Bewitched Bookworms

One of the things that I have been liking about this series is the authors' ability to write a strong kick-ass female character. I liked Jubilee and the fact that she could save herself. From The TBR Pile

The connections to the first novel are present, but This Shattered World functions completely independently and has a conclusion. From A Garden Carried in the Pocket

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

BFYR Symposium 2015 Report (Or What It's Like to Host an Author)

Last week I was able to participate in a symposium at the local university as an author host. (The official name is BYU's Symposium on Books for Young Readers, in case you wondered.) Now, I've never done anything like this before and I was a little nervous (okay, probably a lot) to be the person totally (mostly) in charge of an author! I mean, I'd have to talk and everything. I'd have to be social and all. Not only that, but I'd have to drive the author around, and make sure he/she had everything he/she needed, and I'd help at the signings (two of them) and most scary of all, I'd have to introduce said author at their Q and A sessions with conference attendees.


But I jumped in and said sure and felt much better about it all when I was assigned local author Sara Zarr, who I was a little bit familiar with and who was a little bit familiar with me and the area and the whole shindig.

Well, as it turned out, it turned out to be tons of fun! Exhausting, but fun! I picked Sara up at the train station and took her to her hotel. I picked her up for lunch the next day (she took the morning off) and we joined the other authors and their hosts for a pretty fancy lunch. At one point I realized I was in the company of a Newbery winner, a National Book award finalist, a Printz Honor winner, a Caldecott winner and later (he wasn't at the lunch) a Printz winner. And tons of other awards that I know nothing about. CRAZY I tell you! It was awesome.

Each author gave a presentation/speech to the attendees and after lunch it was Sara's turn. She gave an awesome talk on what does it REALLY mean to be a writer? Lots of deep things and inspiring things to think about. I loved it. Then we went to a dinner where we heard another awesome presentation on the history of Little Golden Books, and after that was the first signing.

The next day was two more speeches, the Q and A sessions (which both Sara and I survived. Let's just say she did a much better job answering questions for two and half hours than I did at my four meager introduction moments. Gah. Not my thing!) and another signing. The authors then got to go up to Sundance for another fancy dinner and I went home.

Anyway, many of the other authors I wasn't as familiar with, but now I feel like I totally know them. Let me show you:

First up was Jon Klassen, who is an amazing illustrator and writer of picture books. He shared those books with us along with the stories of how they came to be. Seriously, the illustrations are amazing. There's two books about a hat, and one about a tree and another about boys digging a hole and then one about the dark that Lemony Snicket wrote. (Well, there's more, but these are the ones that jumped out at me.) Do you know these books? If not, keep your eye out!

When he started the speech, we all put on hats that were provided. Fun! He tweeted this:

Then, Marilyn Singer had a turn. She was a bundle of vivaciousness and energy! Wow. And has she written a lot or what? TONS of poetry books for kids, fun ones, silly ones, learning ones. Plus tons of other stuff. She made ten different points about the process of creativity, or at least her process. Anyway, the amount of stuff she's done and is doing and has yet to do blows me away.

The dinner presentation was by Leonard Marcus, who is known for his biographies on some of the famous people in children's lit, like Margret Wise Brown and Madeleine L'Engle, etc. He told us all about the history of Little Golden Books and it was fascinating. I think the whole room was glued to him. It made me worry and wonder where all the Little Golden Books from my childhood have ended up. Probably the thrift store.

The next morning the talk was by Gene Yang. I wasn't familiar with him since I'm new to and not that much into graphic novels, but Sara had been raving about him and so I was excited to see what he was all about. Well. Let's just say he knows how to tell a story. His presentation was amazing, both the stories and his lovely power point (he is a computer geek AND a graphic artist after all!) He told his story, about how it all came to be and then I was like... oh, right! I've heard of his book... American Born Chinese! Yeah, it took me long enough. But in the end, I bought it and was the last person in his huge long line to get a book signed:

And here's a taste for what it's like to listen to him talk:

Up next was Clare Vanderpool, who has written two books... one won the Newbery and one got a the Printz Honor. Hello. And you know what? She's "just" a mom. She lives in Kansas and has kids the same age as mine and writes books and wins awards. I mean. Seriously.

(P.S. Once was Lost was re-named What We Lost, just so you know.
And I needed to fill in another space, so I added it here.)

And then of course there was "my" author, Sara Zarr. It was awesome was to sit by her at the signings and hear what people had to say: "I am so impressed with your humility." "You are so genuine. I love that." "Your talk spoke right to me. It was exactly what I needed to hear." "Your book [fill in the blank] is just what my student who is suffering with [fill in the problem] needed. Thanks so much." And on and on. One comment people made over and over again... "Your characters are so real! How do you DO that?" I think that would be the best thing to hear people say about your writing.

Anyway, it was a blast and so much fun to get to know Sara better and I can't wait to read the one book of hers that I haven't read yet! I bought it and she signed it and I'll be reading it for Utah Book Month!

I was good and only bought four books! :)

Monday, July 20, 2015

Utah Books Month is Coming!

It's almost Utah Book Month! You know what this means, right? It means we celebrate Utah books and authors by reading Utah books all month long and blogging about all the things we love about the Utah book community. We'll be celebrating again when August rolls around as we have the past few years. We'd love for you to join in the fun, even if you aren't living in Utah. It would so cool if you choose a Utah book and read it this month! Maybe we'll even have a read along!

We've planned some fun stuff including:
  • Twitter chats with Utah authors
  • themed weeks all month long
  • author spotlights
  • mini challenges
  • giveaways
  • a review link up
  • a party, IRL
  • and... as I said above, maybe a read along of a Utah book, especially if there's interest.
We'll have more details posted at the Utah Books blog on August 1 to kick off the event, so keep an eye out there. 

If this sounds like something you'd like to participate in, by reading one or more Utah books, participating in a challenge, or blogging once a week on the theme of the week, let us know by signing up below. 

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Currently: Feeling Surprisingly Relaxed

Listening: I haven't been listening to much of anything this week. More of the same song I posted last week. And loving the Star Wars music from yesterday's adventure (see below.)

Watching: We had a Star Wars marathon yesterday. It was something I'd been looking forward to for forever it seemed. When Jenni, Kami and I realized that Kathy had never seen Star Wars, we had to fix the situation. So we finally did that yesterday and it was awesome. Even though we didn't turn her into a raving Star Wars fan, we did catch her up on some of pop culture's biggest references. We watched the first three originals (eps. 4, 5 and 6) and maybe some day we'll do the the other three. But we'll give it some time before then. Actually, maybe we should do it before December though. Just in case Kathy wants to be part of the Star Wars excitement then! Ha!

Reading: I read Animal Farm this week for book club. Not one of my favorites, but interesting anyway. And now I'm trying to finish Clockwork Angel though it's not one that calls to me during the day and makes me come back to it.

Writing: I've been looking over my last three chapters this week, almost ready to send them out to my couple of alpha readers. And then they can see how my story ends and tell me how crappy/cheesy it is. Woot!

Blogging: We are gearing up for Utah Book Month in August! We have some fun plans and hopefully some of you, both Utah bloggers and non, will join us. Stay tuned for more details coming along tomorrow. :)

Health Watch: It's time to get going on the Zumba thing. I had to recover from jet lag, then I got a cold, then I had a couple of nonstop days.. .and now I'm out of excuses. It's time.

  • I had a fun couple of days hanging out with Sara Zarr as her host for a symposium/conference  event. I think I'll probably do a little post about it this week, so more details on that later too.
  • I just had to run and chase down a sunset. Seriously. It was an awesome one. 
  • I have no plans this next week and it's weird. 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Book Review Discussion: The DUFF by Kody Keplinger

Book: The DUFF by Kody Keplinger
Genre: YA Contemporary
For: Fun
From: Bought on Kindle (possibly for free, I can't remember)

Short Synopsis: So, we have our girl who gets upset right from the start when a guy she can't stand explains to her that she is her friends' DUFF... designated ugly fat friend. Well, she's bugged, but not really devastated. What makes her more crazy is the stuff going on at home with her parents. And then one day, she's with this guy that she "hates" and she up and kisses him which launches them into a terribly unhealthy relationship where she uses him to deaden her feelings and for a distraction. And he knows it and he doesn't care. Well, that is, until he does.

My Response: Ugh. Really. I mean. I don't even know what to say. Well, and I did read it and all. And turned the pages quickly and easily. But I was so bugged with how she dealt with things. And I didn't like her for that. And I didn't like him either. And so I really wasn't rooting for them to get together. And I hoped all along that maybe they would change a lot and maybe it would turn out a little romantic in the end. But it never really did. Except for a love letter that he writes her, which was actually really sweet. But that was about it.

Bottom Line: Eh, it was okay, but mostly just dumb and not at all satisfying.

Let's Talk About: Do you find that if you don't care about the characters then the whole book is pretty much a wash? I hate it when that happens. Luckily, it doesn't happen often!

Other Reviews:

This is a good book with a commendable ending that I would recommend to anyone who doesn’t have objections to high school sex and “language.” From Rhapsody in Books

Though entertaining, The DUFF lacked a little something I like to call nuance. Something for readers to gleanbetween the lines, if you know what I mean. From Write Meg

While I understand her need to “escape” all the stuff going on in her life, why did she have to escape like that? From Books With Bite

It’s funny, entertaining and a very quick read. From Dark Faerie Tales

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

A Trip Collage or Two

 To share more pictures of our trip, I decided to do the collage thing. What do you think? Can you even see anything? Or are they too small? Does it give you a feeling of the scope of the things we saw and experienced? I hope a little!


From left to right, top to bottom:
A church in Nice
A church in Parma
The Verona Arena
The Golden Window in Innsbruck
Mozart's birthplace in Salzburg
A street in Innsbruck
The mansion from the Sound of Music in Salzburg
New Town Hall in Munich
Little village church in Wimmis Switzerland
The Duomo in Florence
The Pantheon in Rome
Constantine's Arch in Rome
The Colosseum in Rome
St. Peter's Basilica in Rome
Old temple ruins in Rome


Left top to bottom, right top to bottom, middle:
Remus and Romulus
The Rape of the Sabine Women
I can't remember
Dusk and Dawn (I think)
Unfinished Michelangelo
Random fountain in Rome
The Pieta
The David

left to right, top to bottom:
Ice cream in Nice
Chocolate Mousse in Nice
Parma cheese and ham in Parma
Salad in Verona
Ravioli in Parma
I don't remember from Innsbruck (something German!)
Weinersnitzal Innsbruck
Chicken in some small village in Germany
Soft boiled eggs in Germany
Seafood sampler in Cinque Terre Italy
Pizza in Florence
Squid or something in Venice
Pizza in Verona
Spatzel and something else in Germany
Random sampler plate in Germany
Ice cream in Nice

left to right, top to bottom:
Eze France
Monte Carlo
Verona Italy
Castle ruins on Lake Garda Italy
Switzerland Alps
Hitler's Hangout in Germany
The lake in Salzburg
Sunset in Germany after a storm
Arno River in Florence
Moonrise in Florence
Tuscany countryside in Italy
Terraces in Cinque Terre Italy
Sunset in Florence
The Roman Forum
Tiber River in Rome
Sunset from the Spanish Steps in Rome
Swiss Alps
Swiss Alps
Swiss Alps
Swiss Alps
Lake Zurich
The Roman Forum... again (oops)


left top corner, clockwise all around, then middle:
At the SLC airport
On the beach at Nice
From the top of Eze Village
Monte Carlo
St. Mark's Square in Venice
Gondola ride!
Eating lunch with the Colosseum in the background
Near Fussen Germany
At the Pantheon in Rome
In a river gorge in Switzerland
On the Spanish Steps in Rome
At Juliet's Balcony in Verona
Top of the overlook in Verona

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Last Books I Accquired

What have I bought, checked out or been given lately? Here you go:

Checked out:

1. This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
2. Saga by Brian Vaughn
3. It's Not Summer Without You by Jenny Han


4. Ink and Ashes by Valynne Maetani
5. Elevated by Elana Johnson
6. The Fill-in Boyfriend by Kasie West
7. Love, Lucas by Chantele Sedgwick


8. Mysteries of Cove: Fires of Invention by J. Scott Savage
9. Mania by J.R. Johannson
10. The Eternity Key by Bree Despain

Well, at least that's some of them. It looks like a much wimpy-er list than I actually imagine it to be!

What have you checked out, bought, or acquired lately? Link up over at The Broke and the Bookish!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Book Review Discussion: Cress by Marissa Meyer

Book: Cress by Marissa Meyer
Genre: YA Fantasy
For: Fun
From: bought it cheap for Amazon Kindle

Short Synopsis: So Cress has been held prisoner in a space ship for seven years. To keep herself occupied, she's followed the story of Cinder and Scarlet and everyone (from the feeds and such you know.) And she's fallen in love with Captain Thorne from afar. Well, one day she makes contact with them and they decide to rescue her. But all goes very very badly. And soon, she and the Captain are walking through a desert, then kidnapped and it's just all crazy stuff. Meanwhile, we are also following the story of Cinder as she plans to stop the wedding of Prince Kai. Also, Scarlet who really gets a bad wrap in this book and ends up as a toy for a crazy girl named Winter.

My Response: It's a crazy fast paced story that I really really wish hadn't ended when it did! So much stuff to wrap up! What about Scarlet? And Cress and the Captain??? What about them? And poor poor Wolf! Ah, no wonder everyone is dying for the next book! So yeah. A very engaging story with wonderful characters. And the tie in to the fairy tales remains genius. Truly. It's amazing.

Bottom Line: If you have yet to read this series, what are you waiting for? Maybe for Winter to come out? Well, then, wait a few more months then read them all at once!

Let's Talk About: If you have read these books, what do you think about the fairy tale tie in? Sometimes I miss them at first then suddenly I realize and I'm like... oh, YEAH! She did THAT??!! :)

Other Reviews:

Overall, Cress was a good read. In fact, better than I expected. The quirks and questions that I – and many others – raised throughout the series are slowly starting to get answered. Meyer continues to grow as a writer, while keeping her ability to bring new takes on old classics. From Fantasy Book Critic

Meyer does an expert job of respecting the integrity of each fairy tale arc while at the same time meshing it with the other fairy tale plot lines, so that it seems as if they unquestionably belong together. From Rhapsody in Books

Cress has lots of echoes of the original story, and I loved being able to pick those out and see how Meyer had incorporated them into her sci-fi world. From Fyrefly's Book Blog

I cannot recommend this series enough. Meyer is truly creative. From Annette's Book Blog

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Currently: Feeling Jet Lagged

Actually, after four days, the jet lag is receding pretty well. So I think we've just about survived that!

Watching: I started watching Call the Midwife.. a couple of episodes worth. I'm not sure I'm quite hooked yet. I mean, it's good. BBC and all. But watching babies be born, and looking so realistic and all... ah... not sure I want to watch that over and over! I'll probably keep watching though. What do you think? Have you watched these shows? Did you love them?

I watched Cinderella and The Longest Ride on the airplane ride coming home. Both... okay. Cute, romantic and stuff. I guess that's my review for you there.

I'm dying to get hooked on something really fantastic for summer watching. Suggestions?

I'm also dying to go see Jurassic World which came out the weekend we left so I'm playing catch up with it. So sad it's not at the Imax anymore, but oh well. Anyway, hopefully I can make that happen this week.

Oh, I watched the season six trailer for The Walking Dead! It looks ruthless!! But then why wouldn't it, right? It looks like a stand off between Rick and Morgan. Am I right?

Listening: My sister showed me this song the other day and I can't stop listening to it. It's Matthew Morrison whom I love and I guess it's from the Finding Neverland musical? Or something. But anyway, give it a listen and let me know if you love it too:

Reading: I have several books started that I need to finish, but last night I started yet another one... Animal Farm which I need to read (re-read I should say) for book club. Hopefully that will only take a couple of sittings and then I can concentrate on finishing a few others.

Blogging: Still hoping my mojo comes back for blogging. I need some exciting blog project or something. No, scratch that. I don't need more projects!!!

Writing: I only thought about my characters a little bit while I was gone. But I did think about them. And yesterday I tried to figure out where I'm at and what I was doing with my story and I'm so messed up! Anyway. Here's hoping I can find a groove with that again. I want to put the Austrian waiter kid into a story so bad! And so instead of working on what I already have going, I'm day dreaming about what his story should be. Awesome.

Planning: Oh, this week is crazy. I'm planning on a writing chat, a gig being a host for an author (Sara Zarr) at a symposium at the college, book club, and a Star Wars marathon! What else should I plan?

Health Watch: Before I left for the trip, I did the scale thing one more time and TEN POUNDS DOWN! After the trip, it's back up about three or four. Whatever. That's with walking miles and miles a day and eating really sporadically, so I don't get it. Maybe gelato and pasta/pizza every day had something to do with it though? But dang, I sweated off at least five more pounds I know it! Anyway, back to the Zumba for me.


  • My son and daughter in law are living with us for a few weeks in between houses. So that's fun.
  • Now that I'm nearly done with jet lag I'm fighting a stupid cold. I can't even remember the last time I had a cold. Years I think. So that's weird.
  • I'm so jealous of San Diego Comic Con! We need to get all the people to come here instead! So that's frustrating!
  • Our gardening is failing. I think the zucchini I planted was mislabeled because zucchini is not growing. And everywhere I planted seeds, weeds are growing instead. So that's maddening.
  • The air here is so wonderful and dry and cool even when it's hot! So that's refreshing!
  • Um. I can't think of anything else interesting. So, that's it!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Europe 2015 By The Numbers

Sunset in Florence Italy

Sometimes after having an epic adventure, I like to sum up the experience by making a numbers list.

And so I give you, Europe 2015 by the numbers:

Plane rides: 6
Train rides (not counting trams or subways): 6
Boat rides: 3
Bus rides: 4
Cars rented: 1
Taxi rides taken: 3
Countries visited: 7 (France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, The Vatican and Monaco)
Princes seen: 1
Popes seen: 0
Big famous cities visited: 11 (Nice, Verona, Innsbruck, Salzburg, Munich, Zurich, Interlaken, Florence, Rome, Venice, Monte Carlo)
Small non famous cities visited: 10 plus (Eze, Brienze, Brannenburg, Parma, the five Cinque Terre villages, San Gimigiano, Fussen, Wimmis, etc.)
Average miles walked each day: 6
Average steps taken each day: 17,000
Fastest we drove on the autobahn: 160 kmh
Photocops that busted us: 1 (going 100 in an 80 kmh tunnel, but we still don't know if we really got busted)
Tunnels driven though: countless
Ten mile long tunnels driven through: 1
Alp summit driven over: 1
Pictures posted to Instagram: 63
Selfies posted to Instagram: 7
Airbnb apartments we stayed at: 6
Times we almost got pick pocketed: 1 (that we know about anyway)
Naked statues we saw: countless
Castles/palaces we visited: 5 or so
Churches/Basilicas we visited: probably 10 at least
Guided tours we went on: 5
Hikes we hiked: 1 big one, several little ones
Whole pizzas I ate: 4
Different kinds of pastas I tried: 10 at least
Gelato consumed: countless
Roman arenas visited: 2
Waiters fallen in love with: 1 (I thought there'd be more gorgeous Italian waiters, but no, this one was an Austrian boy.)
Different ways we learned to say thank you: 3 (merci, danka, gratze)

I'm sure there are many many other things I could list but I'll leave it at that for now! Stay tuned for more trip posts. You know they're coming!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

June 2015 Reading Recap

A Favorite June picture:
The gondola ride in Venice!

Half of June was spent on the trip and I didn't end up reading much. But here's what I did manage during that month:

Okay for Now by Gary B. Schmidt: Supposed trouble maker Doug Swieteck (from The Wednesday Wars) has to deal with growing up and life after he moves to another town.

Waiting for Normal by Leslie Connor: This is the story of how 12 year old Addie learns to deal with her depressed and dysfunctional mom.

Cress by Marissa Meyer: The third book in the series where many of the stories come together, but highlights Cress who has been held captive in a spaceship for seven years and finally Captain Thorne comes to her "rescue." She is then whisked right into the middle of all the excitement and action. Review to come soon!

I started a couple of other... This Shattered Word and Clockwork Angel but left both of them home when I went to Europe in favor of taking my Kindle. So I will pick them both up again and finish them this month!

Favorites of the Month: I totally enjoyed Cress and Okay for Now got a well deserved five stars!

Plans for July:

  • read and review Mania, which came out this week and should have already been read by me!
  • finish This Shattered World, Clockwork Angel, and Snow Like Ashes
  • read Animal Farm for book club
That's about all I'm aiming for right now!

How's your summer reading going? Don't you hate it when you don't read as much on vacation as you think you will? I did finish one other book, The Duff, which I'll add to my July list. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Hyped Books That I've Never Read

The prompt today is to list hyped books that I've never read. Some of these are recently hyped and some go back a few years! Keeping you on your toes! Do we have any of the same books listed?

Ten Hyped Books I've Never Read

1. Gone Girl
2. The Martian
3. All The Light We Cannot See
4.Yes Please
5. The Rosie Project
6. The Fifty Shade books
7. The Shack
8. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
9. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
10. The Girl on the Train

Have it be known that there are some on this list I'll for sure read and some I for sure won't!

What books are on your list today? Be sure to link up over at The Broke and the Bookish!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Twenty Bookish Questions

And now it's survey time! This questions were lifted from Trish at Love Laughter and a Touch of Insanity. If you want to see where she got them and her answers, click on over and give her a visit! 

1. Favorite childhood book:

Just one of many

2. What are you reading right now?

3. What books do you have on request at the library?

None at the moment. I usually don't have a bunch from the library.

4. Bad book habit:

Laying it down, open, pages down, without a bookmark.
Oh, possibly buying too many!

5. What do you currently have checked out at the library?

6. Do you have an e-reader?

Yes, yes I do. And I love it.

7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once?

At least two usually.

8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?

Um... very much yes. I used to go wander the library and pick out whatever looked good. I rarely do that now. I have too many on my shelves to read! Because somehow starting a blog meant buying more. Or something.

9. Least favorite book you read this year:

10. Favorite book you’ve read this year:

One of many, but this one is in my head at the moment

11. How often do you read outside of your comfort zone?

Not often, but now and then. I'm not usually afraid to try most anything.

12. What is your reading comfort zone?

YA for sure... fantasy and contemporary both.

13. Can you read on the bus?

I don't ride the bus but if I did, probably not. I used to not be able to read in the car, but as I've gotten older I can do it as long as we are on a straight steady road.

14. Favorite place to read:

It's toss up between the bed and the couch.

15. What is your policy on book lending?

I'm a bit wary and people have to prove themselves. If they pass the test, I'm usually okay lending, though I will keep track of who has what (usually) and will bug for it back. I will not lend out signed copies if I can help it.

16. Do you dog-ear your books?


17. Do you write notes on the margins of your books?

Nope, but I think it would be cool if I could make myself do it.

18. Do you break/crack the spines?

Not really, but maybe a little accidentally.

19. What is your favorite language to read?

LOL! Um, English! But I did read a few novels in French back in college days!

20. What makes you love a book?

awesome characters, vulnerable villains, beautiful writing, romance, intense action, cool worlds, emotion emotion emotion, unique plot and story idea, learning about another place or historical person


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